Each year the St Catherine's community is enriched by the arrival of a number of international students.
Parents and girls choose St Catherine's for many different reasons, but all agree that it offers a warm, friendly, exciting environment where students quickly become part of a community which has a proud history of successfully educating girls since 1885.
International boarding students and their parents tell us they appreciate the full immersion in a traditional English school which also welcomes day pupils. As a result, St Catherine’s boarders do not live in an 'international boarding bubble'- every day they mix with girls from the UK. Boarders may be invited home by their UK friends which adds an extra and welcome cultural element to their boarding experience. If an international girls’ English language is not already fluent when she arrives at St Catherine's, it certainly is by the time she leaves at the end of the Sixth Form!
|* Foundations for life-long learning||* Superb extra-curricular programme|
|* An extensive choice of academic subjects||* Bright and cheerful boarding accommodation|
|* Exceptional teaching in small classes||* A home-from-home environment|
|* Subject 'clinics' for extra support||* Expert boarding staff who also teach|
|* Outstanding facilities||* An exciting boarders' weekend programme|
|* Expert university and careers advice||* Immersion into UK life, language and culture|
|* A global network at school and beyond||* Perfect location; safe, spacious, well-connected|
Above all, St Catherine's boarders make the most wonderful memories and friends... for life!
11+ Entry - The entrance examination in January consists of 4 papers in English Language, Mathematics, Science and Verbal Reasoning. There is no interview. Girls may sit their paper in a British Council approved centre.
13+ Entry - The entrance examination in October/November consists of English Language, Mathematics, Verbal Reasoning and an interview with two senior members of staff, one of whom will be a Boarding Housemistress.
16+ Entry - There will be an on-line pre-screening assessment. If this is successful, candidates will be invited to sit papers in three of the subjects they would like to study for A Level. There will also be an interview with two senior members of staff.
For 13+ and Sixth Form entry, it is much preferred that girls sit these entrance exams at St Catherine's, Bramley. We also encourage candidates to spend an evening in boarding at the same time. If they are unable to attend the Assessment Day at St Catherine’s, they may sit their paper in a British Council approved centre. A skype interview would follow dependent upon the performance in the entrance examinations.
For entry at all levels, a Confidential Report will be requested from the candidate’s current school.
A high proficiency in written and spoken English is required before a girl joins St Catherine's, especially at Sixth Form level. Girls admitted to the School need to have a level of fluency in written and spoken English that will enable them to access the curriculum for their age group. We assess each girl’s English during the entrance examination and interview process. During their time at the St Catherine's our international boarders develop into extremely fluent users of the English language.
Before she joins the School, a member of the English Department will be in contact with each new overseas boarder to suggest some wider reading. Girls find this beneficial and they have a friendly staff face to turn to on arrival for ongoing encouragement with wider reading.
Very occasionally, if a girl is finding her confidence in English is holding her back, a member of staff who is a qualified EAL teacher may be asked to assess her needs. Should there be a need for a short course of support lessons, these can be arranged, with parents’ permission, and will be billed as an extra.
Girls joining us from overseas may also take public examinations in their native languages if these are provided by the UK examination boards. We have a member of staff who coordinates such exam entries and any top up coaching required in those languages.
Child Student Visa
UK Visa and Immigration
Many students from non-EU countries will require a visa to study at St Catherine’s. If you are a national of a country which is not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you will need to have permission to study in the UK.
Further information can be found here: www.gov.uk/child-study-visa
St Catherine’s is a Highly Trusted Sponsor under the UK Visas & Immigration’s student visa system. This means that we are able to issue Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) numbers to girls who are offered and accept a place at St Catherine’s. Please note that our CAS are primarily reserved for our overseas boarders, we do not sponsor Day pupils under the student visa system.
In order to provide your daughter/client with a CAS number, we will need a copy of her passport and details of her UK-based guardian. Please note – girls aged 16 or 17 years old may be required to have an interview with a member of UKVI staff as part of their visa application process and may be required to register with the local police station on arrival.
Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
When you apply for your visa you will also be asked to apply for a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) as part of the application.
The BRP is an extremely important item and must be kept safely at all times with your daughter’s passport which will be handed in to her boarding housemistress immediately on her arrival at School for safekeeping under lock and key.
Further details can be found at www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits
St Catherine's regards the role of guardian as essential in providing support for those girls at the school whose parents live overseas or some distance away from home in the UK and requires parents of full boarders to appoint a guardian as a priority. It is hoped that the guardian and his or her family will establish a close personal relationship with his/her ward, who should feel secure that the guardian will provide sympathetic support and interest whenever it is needed, a presence at school in the case of an emergency of any kind, and a ‘home from home’ in the UK when that might be needed.
Whilst a boarder is at St Catherine’s, her boarding housemistress and also her school housemistress and/or tutor as well as the Medical Centre staff will take responsibility for her academic progress and welfare, but there are times during the academic year when the school must be able to hand over these responsibilities to a properly appointed guardian who can represent the parents and work closely with the School.
The School welcomes guardians to School functions - new girls' induction events, plays, matches, parents' meetings, concerts etc. Guardians will be sent information about dates and other communications as appropriate via the school Clarion Call email system and parents should note that Guardians will be given No 1 priority along with them on that system so that they are fully informed about school activities and can represent parents appropriately.
A guardian is defined as an adult – i.e. someone over the age of 21, but preferably over 25 - who can be on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer parental, logistical and emergency support to the student, parents and school during term time and in the holidays if the student remains in the UK. For students who are at St Catherine’s sponsored by a Tier 4 Visa, it is important that a girl’s whereabouts in the UK is known and guaranteed at all times when she is not in School and for that reason, a guardian is also very important in the holiday period.
Ideally, the guardian should be someone known to the girl and her family but this is not always possible. Some families appoint a relative or close friend as guardian but if you do not have a relative based in the UK who fits the role, guardians can also be arranged through professional agencies. The School is not allowed to recommend specific people. However, the Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students (AEGIS) is the authoritative association for inspecting and accrediting UK Guardianship Organisations in accordance with a strict Code of Practice and current childcare and child protection legislation. By choosing one of the AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations, parents can be sure that their daughter will receive quality guardianship and support during her stay in the UK. www.aegisuk.net
St Catherine's is situated in a beautiful part of South East England adjacent to the Surrey Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Although we are surrounded by miles of beautiful countryside and are nestled in a typical English village, we are also fortunate to be less than an hour from two international airports - Heathrow and Gatwick, making the start and end of terms so much easier.
St Catherine’s offers a safe and secure environment without being isolated. We believe we offer the perfect location for international boarders!
The local town, Guildford, is just 5 kilometres away and offers shopping, theatres, multiplex cinema, sports centre and 4 trains per hour to London Waterloo. This means all cultural and historic London attractions can be reached in just an hour, giving St Catherine's the edge when it comes to arranging weekend activities.
Our Boarding staff are one of our great strengths. Each of the 4 Boarding Housemistresses lead their Houses with professionalism, dedication and warmth, making boarding a home-from-home experience. Each of them is a trained teacher in her own right, enabling them to take an interest in each girls’ pastoral and academic welfare with genuine understanding.
As member of the teaching staff they are in touch with the girls' teachers throughout the day. There is also a full team of academic resident boarding staff who are always ready to help the girls. They represent a wide range of subjects including Mathematics, the Sciences, Languages and Arts.
Girls who enter at 11+ join Bronte House, led by Mrs Helen Hobourn. Bronte occupies the first floor of the Main School. Its shared dormitories are bright and airy, decorated thematically - savannah, rain forest, mountains, English garden etc. Girls have access to a large common room and kitchen which they enjoy using at the end of the school day, chatting with boarding buddies and where they can play lots of games together.
At 13+ boarders join Symes, led by Mrs Helen Harkness. This is a purpose built boarding house in the school grounds, adjacent to the Anniversary Halls Performing Arts and Sports complex. It allows the girls to have a little more independence but still under careful supervision.
Girls share large dormitories, a room where they colmplete their prep in the evenings with individual deskspace for everyone and, of course, a light and bright common room and kitchen for convivial times!
Girls move into Keller House at the start of Year 10 (please note we no longer accept girls into Year 10). Keller House is led by Mrs Isabelle Cook and it is situated on the top floor of Main School. Girls love their dormitories with their large dormer windows and sloping ceilings making it a very cosy space. As with all St Catherine's boarding houses, Keller girls have their own common room and kitchen. These dormitories have desks and chairs so girls can do their prep, affording them greater independence but in the knowledge there are always teaching staff available for valuable help and support.
Finally, The 6. Led by Mrs Vic Alexander, this is our brand new boarding house for the Sixth Form only. It opens in the Spring of 2021 with 44 double study bedrooms, a common room, kitchen and bright, modern shared and individual bathrooms. The 6 is going to be an amazing space, and is the perfect preparation for university life.
It is reassuring for parents and girls to know that St Catherine's has a superb team of medical professionals on hand . Boarders have access to a trained, resident nurse 24/7.
We have a dedicated Medical Centre with accommodation for any girls who are unwell and require extra medical supervision until they are well enough to return to their boarding house. Please follow this link for further details:
Our Medical Team
- Mrs Linda Green RGN (Senior Nursing Sister)
- Mrs Katie Downes RGN
- Mrs Maya Garside RGN
- Mrs Lauretta Pope RGN
All girls either go home in the school holidays or stay with pre-agreed guardians. It is compulsory for every International Boarder to have a designated guardian. Please speak to the Registrar who can offer you further information.
The major holidays are:
Autumn Half Term - one week at the end of October/beginning November
Christmas - approx 3 weeks - December/January
Spring Half Term - mid February
Easter - approx 3 weeks March/April
Summer Half Term - one week at the end of May
Summer Holiday - approx 8 weeks July/August returning first week in September
Please click here for precise future holiday dates.
There is just ONE compulsory exeat which is the weekend preceding the first Monday in May. This happens to be a UK public holiday, when there will be no staff on duty.
- How does my daughter get from the airport to and from school?
- How do I watch any school events that my daughter is in?
- How does my daughter get her clothes cleaned?
- What Universities do your students go to?
At the end of term - lunchtime on the final Thursday - coach transfer is arranged to London Heathrow, all terminals, and luggage will have been loaded in advance. Packed lunch is supplied. For other destinations, either at the same time, or later in the afternoon, taxis are booked for individuals or groups of girls. Charges are put on the girls' fee bills for these transfers.
At the start of term, girls arriving make requests for transfers to the School which are booked for them. They quickly learn to share together if possible when several come from the same flight.
Alternatively, guardians or family in the UK are welcome to organise the transfers to and from school themselves. Sometimes overseas boarders do not return home immediately and might go to their guardian to await a flight at the right time the next day, or may spend a few days with a day girl friend. In those situations, the relevant adult would pick them up and parents would be asked to give their consent for that.
Travel arrangements are requested form families several weeks in advance of the beginning or end of each term and prompt responses are always very helpful to us to ensure we can secure the exact requirements for transfers to and from the airports. The boarding housemistresses discuss arrangements with the girls and at Sixth Form Level only they start to take a higher level of responsibility for organising their own transport, with you and their housemistress in the loop.
The arrival times at the start of term are published here and girls must be back by the stated time. Similarly, at the ends of terms, they may not leave until 1.0 pm on the final Thursday.
Important note: All our taxi drivers come from a firm known to us and are safeguarding checked. We use htis firm regularly throughout the term. The same applies to our coach companies.
We know how important it is for you to feel involved in the life of the St Catherine’s community and to see your daughter in action – be that on the stage, in the Orchestra or perhaps receiving an Award on Speech Day. We want you to feel the pride your daughter feels as she takes her place amongst her peers and experiences all that a British Boarding school life has to offer.
We make every effort to make significant School events accessible to you – either streamed live so you can view them over the web as they happen or as recorded events so you, grandparents and friends can enjoy them at your leisure. As an example, recent events that overseas parents have joined us for via the Live Event Streaming are Chamber Music Concert, a Lecture by alumna Professor Beverley McKeon, Professor of Aeronautics, The House Drama Competition, the GCSE Presentation Evening, a Meet the Tutors event, the Gala Concert and St Catherine’s Presents: Lucinda Hawksley on Charles Dickens.
These events are made accessible via a private community portal and you will be sent links and instructions as to how to view.
In Bronte, Symes and Keller boarding houses, from age 11 to 15, our wonderful team of housekeepers look after your laundry and will wash clothes each week day. Each girl puts their sorted washing in a labelled basket in the laundry room. You then collect your clothes from the laundry shelves when they are clean and dry – usually the next day. With all your uniform and own clothes carefully labelled you’ll be sure to find your clothes easily. In the Sixth Form, girls have access to washing machines and dryers and, in readiness for University, manage their own laundry. Bed linen is washed once a week.
We have an enviable reputation for girls gaining offers from top Universities in the UK and further afield. For example, our girls are currently studying Modern Languages at Durham, Engineering at UCL, Physics at Oxford, International Relations at St Andrews, Medicine at Birmingham and Communications and Design at the Pratt Institute, New York. For a full list of the University choices of our girls please see the ‘Destination of Leavers’ information below.
In an increasingly competitive application process, your daughter will be offered advice and encouragement every step of the way. She will also benefit from a network of St Catherine’s young alumnae who are at a wide range of Universities studying courses that she might be interested in. The St Catherine’s Association can connect her to these alumnae to learn so much more than is in a prospectus or published online.